Hyderabad: In a school classroom, Subhash Pandey was reading out a lesson on Bachendri Pal to his students. On further discussions, another inspiring name came up in the class, Arunima Sinha. But this time, it was not just the students but the teacher himself who was moved by her story. "She climbed Mount Everest with a prosthetic leg. Then why can't I," thought Subhash to himself. This fire took him a long way, eventually winning him four medals at the first National Veterans Sports and Games Championship held at Nasik in November.

A knee replacement surgery to both his knees didn't shake the mettle of this 75-year-old man. "The doctor told me that I can't run. So I started walking," says Subhash. His brisk walking proved successful at the 10 km running event at the national championship, bringing him a bronze medal. Besides the 10 km run, Subhash Pandey from Malkajgiri won a gold medal in 30 km cycling event and a bronze in 5 km walking and 5 km running events. A never-exhausted Subhash shared his desperation for having missed a fifth event, a 3 km walk, he had planned to participate in but couldn't as the event was postponed.

Sharing his happiness, Subhash says, "I am not just happy for the medal but also because Nasik is my birthplace and I am happy that I got to visit there once again."

After retiring from the Railways in 2006, Subhash Pandey was initially clueless about what to do and he observed his wife who was a teacher. Soon, he also joined his wife as a teacher. The stories that he read in class inspired him to do more in life. He changed gear.

When he was with the Railways, he used to play badminton and liked bodybuilding. It was during the pandemic that he found his new interest in cycling. "When the lockdown was announced, everyone was asked to stay indoors. I used to go cycling at 4 a.m and come back by 6 p.m as the roads were not crowded during those hours," says Subhash. On weekends he took longer practice sessions of 10-20 km cycle ride.

Pedaling it out

On 17 March 2021, Subhash lost his wife. In her memory, he cycled 40km all alone on 5 September 2021. "On 5 December 2021, it's our 53rd wedding anniversary and I am planning to cycle to Yadagirigutta," says Subhash. Yadagirigutta is almost 60km from Malkajgiri.

The septuagenarian, a member of cycling groups in the city like Hyderabad Cycling Club and Happy Hyderabad, is looking forward to attending the athletics meet conducted by National Master Athletic Association in Varanasi on 26 November.

In view of Veterans Day celebrated worldwide on 11 November, the first National Veterans Sports and Games Championship was conducted at Lt. Meena Tai Thackeray stadium in Nasik, Maharastra, from 11 to 14 November 2021. Several states, including Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Orissa, West Bengal, and Telangana participated.

Nimisha S Pradeep

Hailing from Palakkad, Kerala, Nimisha completed her MA in Communication (with a specialization in Print and New Media) from the University of Hyderabad. She has interned with The Hindu Metroplus, Chennai and The Sentinel, Assam. She was a fellow of the NFI Fellowship for Independent Journalists in 2021. In 2015, she attended the Jenesys Student Exchange Programme in Japan. She firmly believes in the power of words and the impact it can make on society. She looks forward to using her career in journalism to voice the issues of minorities. Her interest areas include gender, women and society. She pursues travel, photography, and music in her leisure time.

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